Robin & Linda Williams and Their Fine Group – Stonewall Country: Songs From the Musical

January 01, 1970

(Red House)


Robin & Linda Williams’ reputation in Bluegrass
circles is certainly stellar, and as regulars on “A Prairie Home Companion,”
their music has been heard by millions over the airwaves. However, their stage
musical “Stonewall Country” is known only to the relative few who had
opportunity to see it in repertoire at Lexington
Virginia’s Lime Kiln Theater from
1985 to 2005, or during its recent revival in 2009. But with the 150-year
anniversary of the Civil War commencing this year, it’s an ideal time to
release the songs as a compendium, and to use them to learn the legacy of one
of the Confederacy’s most revered generals, Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.


Still, Stonewall
is more than a mere history lesson. It is, in fact, a period piece
that reflects the tone and temperament of the times, a song cycle about the
circumstances that influenced both the man and his mission. The homespun title
track encapsulates the idyllic environs that framed Jackson’s
early years, its ambling melody capturing the serenity of Virginia’s
beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Then, as the
album progresses, darker clouds appear. Conflict ensues with the simultaneous
accusations of “Battling Anthems,” then turns harrowing and unsettling with the
brazen “Seven Day Freak Out,” and ultimately numb and cynical in the
trad-sounding tune, “Hardtack’s All We Eat.” By the time the album winds its
way to its conclusion, the pain and horror of conflict are fully etched, giving
“The War’s Gone Bad On Me,” “Don’t Let Me Come Home A Stranger” and ” Let Us
Cross Over the River” a forlorn feeling that echoes the war’s futility. The couple
enhances authenticity by employing traditional instrumentation (banjo, fiddle
mandolin, jews harp and the like) as well as Garrison Keillor in the role of
narrator, and through these devices, history and humanity suddenly seem all but


“Stonewall Country,” “The War’s Gone Bad On Me,” “Don’t Let Me Come Home A

Leave a Reply